Ratika Haksar’s artistic tribute to spring

Every morning, Chennai-based artist and designer Ratika Haksar wakes up in a flower-pocked meadow in the South of France. Drinking out of her favourite tea mug where sprigs of lavender run riot, Ratika time travels to Provence where she holidayed a while ago.

“The line of artists who have been inspired by their gardens is long, and the image of the sunny South has stayed with me... the flowers, the way the light falls on the land. It’s a throwback to a time when we could travel, usher in spring,” says Ratika, at her gallery in Teynampet.

Spring stayed with her through the maddening solitude of the lockdown. Not the bright colours of the Indian basant — mustards and bougainvillea pinks — but the subtle shades of Edwardian roses, peonies and hydrangeas. And through 30 sculpture paintings and as many saris, Ratika ushered in the season through her line All Things Floral.

Ratika Haksar’s artistic tribute to spring

“I completed the collection during lockdown,” says Ratika. “It’s a coming together of cross-cultural sensibilities, some drawn from my Kashmiri roots, travel, my inclination towards the Romantic Age and the European colour palette and style.”

Ratika did a short course on sculpture painting two years ago. An amalgamation of sculpture and painting, the technique involves using a palette knife to carve out flowers from plaster onto a plywood board. “Sculpture painting is inspired by relief work found in European classical architecture. Abstracts are also popular. These enchanting images arouse your tactile sense,” says Ratika, opening a box of plaster the colour of bone white, which is then mixed with oil paints to give it a pastel hue.

“I’m passionate about pastels. Pastels lend themselves to sculpture painting best; especially flowers. Darker shades make them look clunky as when the plaster sets it has a very cement-like quality. Petal and leaf tips may be fragile but sculpture paintings are solid.”

This solidity married to a rare weightlessness of colour runs on the walls, some framed like vintage portraits with a hint of gold.

Roses, peonies and hydrangeas spill out of baskets or climb the boards in styles that broadly mirror how floral art has been portrayed by the styles of the Far East, Orient and Europe. Petals in shades of baby pink, sky blue, mint green and lemon yellow are accompanied by leaves serrated or lanced depending on the flower, its stem stocky or supine.

“Some of the six-foot boards took a month to do. It is hard as you have to work on the floor or on a low flat surface... it’s the only way the plaster will adhere to the board,” says Ratika.

Ratika Haksar’s artistic tribute to spring

The flowers flow on to the limited edition saris too. Mostly in shades of beige, off-white and coffee, with the odd bold red thrown in, the saris are in a variety of textures — georgette, chiffons, tussars, Benares and raw silk. Designed by Ratika and created by a team of five embroiderers who worked on and off during the pandemic, the saris are light, the colours muted.

“There is aari work, ‘convent’ embroidery interspersed with pearls and beads, sequin highlights and Parsi gara work,” she says.

The saris sport oriental lilies, peonies, roses and daffodils. In some the zardosi has been beaten down to give the flowers a muted appearance, in others, they climb like vines on the pallav. Printed saris also jostle for space on the stands. Flowers from Mughal art and European fleur-de-lys also feature. The base material is pastel, but golden beams gleam over red poppies. Warm oranges express the blooms of the Indian mountains and mauves remind you of a once ago spring in France.

Prices range ₹7,500 onwards for the art and ₹9,000 for the saris. The exhibition opens on March 29 at 3/2,1st Floor, 1st Main Road, Seethamal Extension, Teynampet. Call 044-24314841.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 7:12:30 AM |

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